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Tigers 3, White Sox 2: Torii Hunter walk off single caps 8-0 home stand, Bruce Rondon gets first career win

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Rick Porcello wasn't around for the decision, but pitched into the eighth, allowing just one run. The 12th-inning heroics of Miguel Cabrera and Torii Hunter, neither of whom were in the starting lineup, gave Bruce Rondon his first career big-league win.

Duane Burleson

The injury riddled Detroit Tigers battled late into the afternoon, finally taking a 12-inning, 3-2 walk-off victory over the collapsing Chicago White Sox.

Torii Hunter was the walk-off hero for the Tigers, driving in pinch runner Matt Tuiasosopo with a one-out single. Miguel Cabrera was not in the starting lineup due to his lingering abdominal injury, but began the 12th-inning rally with a pinch-hit single.

Tigers' starting pitching has been great on the eight-game home stand, and today was no different. Rick Porcello was hung with a no-decision, but held the White Sox to one run and eight hits over 7 2/3 innings. Bruce Rondon (1-1), the fourth and final Tigers' pitcher, received credit for his first career MLB win with two innings of shutout relief.

White Sox rookie starting pitcher Andre Rienzo was almost as good as Porcello. Pitching into the seventh in just his second career start, Rienzo allowed two runs and four hits. The sixth White Sox pitcher on the day, Dylan Axlerod (3-8), served up the game-winning hit, taking the loss.

Along with Hunter's two hits and late-game heroics, Alex Avila and Ramon Santiago drove in seventh-inning runs for the Tigers. All the White Sox offense came on two swings of the bat. One of Adam Dunn's four hits was a fourth-inning home run, while Paul Konerko tied the game in the ninth with a solo shot off Tigers' reliever Drew Smyly.

The Tigers and White Sox are heading in opposite directions, and doing so in great haste. The Tigers have won eight straight and 12 of their last 13. Firmly ensconced in last place at 29 games under .500 and 24 games back of the Tigers, the snake-bit White Sox have lost ten straight and 13 of 14.

To open the game, the White Sox tried the Angels' strategy of paper-cutting Rick Porcello, almost succeeding.

One down, Alexei Ramirez reached on an infield single, then proceeded to do what the White Sox do - something dumb. Ramirez took for second while Porcello hadn't even started his motion, and was easily picked off. Call it a 1-4-3-6 caught stealing.

Alex Rios followed with another infield single, Adam Dunn dropping a softly hit looper into center. Porcello made more trouble for himself, wild pitching the runners into scoring position. Deciding he wanted no part of Paul Konerko, Porcello pitched around the aging slugger, a walk loading the bases. Given a shot to break the game open early, Conor Gillaspie instead popped up to Peralta to end the inning. The White Sox loaded the bases on three hits, a walk, wild pitch, yet didn't score.

Bottom of two, the Tigers started the inning with back-to-back singles off the bats of Victor Martinez and Peralta. With runners on the go to stay out of the double play, Alex Avila bounced to first, moving the runner into scoring position.

What Jose Iglesias giveth on defense, he can taketh away on offense. After making a sterling defensive play on a Dayan Viciedo chopper the previous half-inning, Iglesias batted with two runners in scoring position and one out. In an unimpressive at bat, Iglesias struck out on three pitches. Ramon Santiago then bounced out, stranding the runners, the game remaining scoreless.

Iglesias flashed more glove leather in the third. Ramirez reached on an infield single, but the slick fielding rookie made a marvelous diving stop on a hard-hit ground ball down the line. Iglesias landed in foul territory and came up firing, Ramirez beating the throw on a bang-bang play. Iglesias then ended the inning by starting an around-the-horn double play on Rios' ground ball.

"Our infield defense was absolutely unbelievable." -Jim Leyland on what impressed him during today's win

The White Sox broke the ice in the fourth inning, taking a 1-0 lead. Dunn led off with one of the Three True Outcomes, his 26th home run of the season. He drilled Porcello's belt-high fastball, sending an absolute bomb to dead center which landed in the second level of shrubbery (MLB.com jaw-dropping video).

Dunn_home_run_medium

Making only his second big-league start, White Sox starter Andre Rienzo was in complete control. After the back-to-back singles to the start the second, Rienzo retired nine straight Tigers through four innings.

Porcello wasn't getting any help in the run support department, but he was doing his part to keep the Tigers in the game. Gordon Beckham led off the fifth with a ground rule double to left center. But Beckham would move no further, Porcello setting down the next three White Sox hitters in order.

Rienzo had it easier than Porcello in the bottom half of the fifth, his out streak reaching 12 after tossing another easy 1-2-3 inning.

Two down in the sixth, Rienzo's streak finally came to an end. Don Kelly lined a single to center, snapping Rienzo's streak at 14 straight outs. He just went and started another streak, striking out Prince Fielder to end the inning.

The pitchers' duel reached the seventh, the Tigers still down 1-0. It didn't remain 1-0 for very long. Rienzo walked the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the seventh, Martinez and Peralta. Alex Avila then sent a long drive to Death Valley, right center. Rios couldn't make a lunging grab, the fly landing just short of the warning track. but Martinez played it halfway, believing Rios was going to make the catch. Martinez's misread almost cost the Tigers a run, having to get on his horse to narrowly beat the throw home. Avila had a game-tying double, Peralta holding up at third (MLB.com video).

Robin Ventura made a pitching change, calling on right-hander Nate Jones. Two on, no one out and the infield drawn in, Iglesias bounced out to short. But Santiago managed to get the ball in the air, sending a fly ball to shallow center field. De Aza was forced to cover quite a bit of ground to flag down the fly, and was thus unable to get much on his throw. Peralta easily beat the throw home, Santiago's sacrifice fly giving their Tigers their first lead of the game at 2-1.

Top of eighth, Porcello remained in the game to face the top of the White Sox order. De Aza greeted him with a line drive to right. Kelly was fooled, taking a route ( \__ shaped) which sent the ball over his head, taking one bounce over the wall for a ground rule double.

Ventura ordered Ramirez to lay one down, playing for one run (YAY for Ventura both playing for the tie and giving the Tigers a free out!). His sacrifice bunt moved De Aza to third. Rios hit the ball hard, but Austin Jackson charged and caught the sinking liner. De Aza broke for home, taking a few steps down the line thinking the ball would drop. Those couple of steps forced him to hold at third.

Jim Leyland made the call for his fireman, Drew Smyly. The skipper wanting the lefty-lefty match up with Mr. Three True Outcomes. Dunn, who entered the at bat 3-for-3 with a solo moon shot, struck out on Smyly's big bender, stranding De Aza 90 feet away.

The White Sox replaced Jones in the bottom of the eighth with David Purcey .. or Pauley ... who the Hell knows? (Purcey or Pauley is the Tigers' version of Bill Paxton or Bill Pullman.)

OK, it was former Tigers lefty David Purcey, who immediately gave up a single to Andy Dirks. Donnie Baseball wizardly bunted Dirks into scoring position. Fielder lofted a bloop into center, Beckham robbing him of a single with a sliding, over-the-shoulder grab.

Once Purcey walked Martinez, Ventura did what he loves to do, make a pitching change. Closer Addison Reed ended the inning, Perlata grounding into a 6-4 fielder's choice. Missing out on the insurance run would came back to bite the Tigers.

Jose Veras was warming up, but Smyly remained in the game to face Konerko. An interesting decision, with Veras ready and Konerko a career 4-for-6 against Smyly. Unfortunately for Leyland, the old slugger made it a career 5-for-7 against Smyly, depositing the second pitch of the inning over the fence in deep left center. Konerko's eighth home run of the season shockingly knotted the game at 2-all.

Regardless, I'm not going to get up in arms over Leyland leaving Smyly in the game. Smyly hadn't given up a home run since May 22, holding right-handed batters to a mediocre .645 OPS this season. Sometimes the other team makes a play.

Veras then entered the game, quickly disposing the next three batters.

Reed started the ninth for the White Sox. Avila made Reed work, drawing a lead off-walk on a full count. Iglesias at the plate, the Tigers elected not to bunt, but to start the runner. Iglesias did his job, a ground ball to second advancing Avila into scoring position. Santiago did the same, Avila taking third.

The winning run was 90 feet away with two outs, Jackson at the plate. Jackson ended the inning on a can of corn to right.

On to extra innings, where the Tigers came in a lowly 3-9 on the season. They had had one walk-off win on the season, Peralta hitting a two-run homer off Andrew Bailey top beat the Red Sox 4-3 on June 20. The White Sox have been victimized by eight walk-off losses, and it feels like every one of them was to the Indians.

Top of ten, Veras was still on the mound. Tyler Flowers drew a lead-off walk, De Aza sacrificing him to second. Then the White Sox reverted back to being the LOLSox. Ramirez sent a looper over shortstop, Peralta making a leaping grab in short left to take away a base hit. But Flowers hadn't played it safe, and had already taken off for third. He was easily doubled off to end the threat.

Ventura opened the bottom of the tenth with lefty Donnie Veal and his 7.20 ERA. Leyland countered by pinch-hitting Torii Hunter for Dirks. Hunter fouled off a 2-2 pitch, and limped away from the batter's box in pain. But Hunter remained in the game, sending a 3-2 pitch back through the box for a lead-off single to center.

Veal stayed in the game, and instead of pinch-hitting Matt Tuiasosopo (who has an .885 OPS versus lefties), Leyland left Kelly in to bunt. Bunts are evil, but if you feel you must, get the damn thing down. Kelly failed miserably, popping up for the first out. Fielder's struggles continued at the plate, bouncing into an inning-ending double play. A promising inning had brutally fizzled out.

Bruce Rondon entered the game in the top of the 11th. Rondon pitched around Dunn's fourth hit of the game, ending the inning without incident.

The parade of relief pitchers continued in the bottom of the 11th, right-hander Dylan Axelrod on the mound for the White Sox. Martinez led off by slapping a single past a diving Jeff Keppinger at third. Peralta at the plate, there would be no bunts this time around. Peralta made a bid to win the game, but center field defensive replacement Jordan Danks ran down Peralta's fly ball on the warning track in deepest left center.

"The two guys that came off the bench today, Miggy and Torii, been carrying us all year." -Matt Tuiasosopo on the late game heroics

Both Avila and Iglesias hit the ball deep, but their fly balls had only warning track power. Axelrod had gotten out of the inning on three very loud outs.

Leyland rolled the dice with Rondon for a second inning, which paid off in a 1-2-3 12th. Iglesias made another ridiculously good play, a sliding backhand stop of Beckham's ground ball down the third-base line, firing an on-target throw for the second out of the inning. This was the first game where we really got see why Iglesias is thought to be a multiple Wins Above Replacement player with his defense alone.

Ventura also rolled the dice, asking a second inning out of Axelrod. Miguel Cabrera pinch-hit for Santiago. Not trying to do too much, Cabrera bounced a single up the middle. Tuiasosopo replaced Cabrera as a pinch runner.

Once again, the Tigers elected to bunt. It was Jackson who was asked to do so, moving Tuiasosopo into scoring position for Hunter. But in this case, the evil bunt WORKED. Hunter laced a 2-0 breaking ball left center for a single, Tuiasosopo scoring without a throw!

WALK OFF GAME OVER. Your final score is Tigers 3, White Sox 2. The Tigers struggled for long stretches, but excellent pitching and timely hitting are hard to beat ... especially when the opposition is the White Sox.

The Tigers end a great home stand with an undefeated record, winning eight straight over the Phillies, Nationals and the woebegone White Sox, raising their record to 64-45. Good thing, as the Indians hover at three games back and refuse to lose. After Sunday's games, both Detroit and Cleveland are 9-1 in their last ten, neither team able to pull away. The Royals are still in on the "Let's not lose again" act, 9-1 in their last ten as well. If there is any team which should be disappointed, it's the Royals. Despite their winning 11-of-12, they have not gained any ground in the Central, remaining 7 1/2 back of the streaking Tigers.

The Tigers hit the road for a big ten-games-in-ten-days road trip, starting with four in Cleveland. Game one against the second-place Tribe has the Tigers' Anibal Sanchez (9-7, 2.59 ERA) facing the Indians' Corey Kluber (7-5, 3.77 ERA). Since coming off the DL in early July, Sanchez is remains the prime example of wins and losses not defining a pitcher's value. His record is only 3-2, but has a sparkling 2.15 ERA. Kluber has no-decisions in his last two starts, both ending up as walk-off wins for the Indians. Monday's first pitch at the Jake Progressive Field is 7:05 PM.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs

BULLETS:

Today is the 20th anniversary of former White Sox third baseman and current manager Robin Ventura being pummeled by Nolan Ryan. Enjoy.

Today was another sellout (42,513) for the streaking Tigers. It's their 12th full house in a row and 24th of the season. Total attendance for the three game series was a season high 127,558.

Matthew B. Mowery of The Oakland Press, bursting narrative bubbles.

Though it's worth noting almost every Sunday lineup had Miguel Cabrera in it. Today, the Tigers were completely punchless in the middle innings without their middle-of-the-order slugger. And we can all agree Don Kelly batting in the three spot is insanity.

In the second inning, we got our first real view of just how good Jose Iglesias is with the glove. Dayan Viciedo sent a slow roller to third, Iglesias quickly charged, make the pickup and fired an off balance bullet to first. It wasn't even close, Viciedo out by several steps. Iglesias made a very difficult play look ridiculously easy.

Good defense is infectious. Ramon Santiago made a highlight reel play in the fourth, robbing Conor Gillaspie of a base hit. Gillaspie ripped a one-hopper to the right of Santiago. He took one step, laid out to make the grab, got hurt on the landing, then quickly gathered himself to make the throw to first on one knee. Santiago came up gimpy, but remained in the game.

Adam Dunn''s fourth-inning home run (which is still orbiting the earth) was the first allowed by a Tigers' pitcher since Tyler Flowers went yard against Justin Verlander on July 25th. That's seven games and 68 2/3 innings ago.

ESPN Stats and Info calculated Dunn's moon shot was the longest by a White Sox this season, traveling 462'.

If the latest reports are true, Jhonny Peralta's last at-bat for the Tigers until the final week of the 2013 season was in the 11th inning. Peralta just missed a game-winning home run, flying out to deep left center. I would have loved to see the narrative of Peralta's last pre-suspension at-bat being a walk-off hit. But it wasn't to be.

I doubt there's a paper trail, but you have to believe they were purposefully ignoring Peralta's situation. Meanwhile, on the radio mum is NOT the word.

While White Sox - Tigers was winding toward the late innings, Biogenesis news reared its ugly, annoying head.

The Prince Fielder backlash is underway.

Miguel Cabrera singled in a 12th-inning pinch hitting appearance. But the run (or more correctly, jog) to first did not look encouraging for a quick return to full-time duty. His entering the game also reset any retroactive Disabled List clock, if that is an option. It likely isn't, being he Tigers allowed him to make a plate appearance.

Post game, the Tigers' announced a shocker of a personnel move. Welcome back Bondo!

THREE ROARS:

Rick Porcello: Deserved a W, but Konerko's home run off Smyly hung the Tigers' starter with a no-decision. Porcello scattered eight hits over 7 2/3 innings, allowing just one run.

Torii Hunter: Singled in both his late game at-bats, including the 12th-inning walk-off RBI single. He gets extra credit for the awesome handshake with Victor Martinez.

Hunter_martinez_handshake_medium

Bruce Rondon: Gets his first career victory, pitching two scoreless innings in relief.

BONUS ROARS:

Alex Avila: Just when you thought the Tigers would never get on the scoreboard, Avila tied the game with a seventh-inning double.

Miguel Cabrera: Without him making an appearance, the game may still be underway. Came off the bench to start the game-winning rally with a pinch-hit single.

Jose Veras: Two scoreless innings in relief, setting the table for Rondon.

Jose Iglesias: Brilliant defensively, making difficult plays look crazy easy.

THREE HISSES:

A Sunday lineup without Miguel Cabrera: The Tigers had long stretches of futility with their neutered lineup, with 15-of-16 retired by Rienzo at one point.

Prince Fielder: In a prolonged slump, 0-for-5 on the day. His post-April splits are ugly.

Drew Smyly: Shocked us all by serving up a rare home run, a game-tying shot to Konerko.

ROLL CALL:

Roll Call Info
Total comments 1,650
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TOP TEN COMMENTERS:

# Commenter # Comments
1 RedWingedLigerFan 164
2 SanDiegoMick 142
3 JJMcEazy 125
4 BadCompany22 101
5 texastigerfan 84
6 Alex Baker 74
7 J_the_Man 69
8 crazyj 68
9 NCDee 62
10 Verlanderful 56

TOP RECS:

# Recs Commenter Comment Link
11 NCDee This sweeping is hard work!!!!!
4 BadCompany22 JOSE CAN YOU SEE
2 Rob Rogacki You mean the guy that got six outs in the 9th and 10th?
2 Rob Rogacki Both you and Mick

GAME 110 PLAYER OF THE GAME:

Max Scherzer both dominated the White Sox (7 2/3 shutout innings) and the BYB PotG vote (81%).